The BBC has confirmed that they are currently developing a movie based on its popular, forty-plus year old science-fiction series Doctor Who. The news came buried in a BBC story about the show’s current lead, David Tennant, making a guest appearance on the spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, later this year.
Although there are no other firm details other than “a script is in development,” there’s plenty of things to speculate on.
The first and formost thing is the question of who would star in the film? Although enormously popular, current star Tennant is leaving the program at the end of this year, with relative newcomer Matt Smith assuming the role of the time and space travelling adventurer known only as the Doctor. Would this leave Tennant free to pursue a big screen outing? Well, there had been some rumors that he was looking for a movie deal as part of his last round of contract negotiations over the show. And he would certainly be a box office draw. Of course, the show’s conceit that the Doctor is an alien who periodically can change his appearance has allowed the series to continue for four decades with different actors in the lead, so that anyone could be cast in a future potential movie.
This would not be the first time that the Doctor has travelled from the small to the big screen. During the show’s initial burst of popularity in the 1960s, the BBC sold the movie rights to Regal Films International, who produced two feature films starring Peter Cushing. Although both films – Dr. Who And The Daleks (1965) and Dalek Invasion Earth: 2150 AD (1966) – were adapted from episodes of the series, the movies did diverge greatly from what little was known at the time about the Doctor’s mysterious background.
In the 1970s, popular series star Tom Baker collaborated with actor-turned-writer Ian Marter to develop a script entitled Dr. Who Meets Scratchman in which the renegade time traveller would square off against the Devil. However, they were never able to raise the financing needed to get the project rolling. Another attempt to bring the Doctor to the big screen in the 1990s ultimately led to the 1996 television movie that aired on the FOX network.